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From the Trenches

From Zero to Content Marketing Plan in 6 Weeks

Yvonne Lyons | January 29, 2016
From Zero to Content Marketing Plan in 6 Weeks

Last week, my colleague Mike Sweeney gave you some insider planning tips from his work on 13 content marketing plans last year. His last word of advice? Get crackin’.

So, have you done anything since last week? Are you paralyzed by fear? Just don’t know where to start? Think it’s too late? Fear and paralysis are understandable. But it’s not too late. You can still do this. Just like a solid plan will help you refocus when people try to derail your efforts during the year and will keep you headed toward your goals, creating a plan to DO the plan will end the paralysis and help you get moving.

Below is what you have to accomplish in each of the next six weeks (if you start now) in order to complete your content marketing plan. We take longer than six weeks at Right Source to create a content marketing plan, but you know your company pretty well, might be very familiar with business goals and objectives, and maybe you have the whole company history in your head. All of this knowledge saves you time. And quite frankly, you are a little behind already, so I’m going to help you move this along.

Be aware, however, that this post will not tell you how to make your content marketing plan great. It won’t tell you how to convince leadership that content marketing is the right choice. It will not tell you what pitfalls to avoid. I’m just going to tell you how to get moving, how to keep moving, the elements you MUST include, and will offer a few pro tips because who doesn’t need a little help here and there?

Week 1
Assemble your team ­– Team is key here. You don’t want to do this alone. You should recruit some content creators, strategists, data specialists, and some folks who know marketing technology to help you build out all facets of your plan. Your team needs to be on board and be cheerleaders for the plan and the process. Get them fired up and be their leader.

Do some interviews – You know your company, but are you certain you are in alignment with leadership on what this content strategy is supposed to accomplish, how you will measure success, how much you will spend, who is willing to be involved, and what sales feels they need to do their jobs? Talk to some key people.

Create some kind of a project planning or management system ­– We use Trello, but there are lots of good options out there to keep you organized as you work through all the parts of your plan. The idea is not to lose sight of what you have to do, who is doing it, and whether it’s actually done. Do this asap before you get lost in the melee.

Week 2
Research your competition ­– You’re saying, “You think I do marketing here and I don’t know who my competitors are?” Well, of course I believe you know who they are, but do you really know how they are marketing themselves? Do you know exactly what kinds of content they are creating, and how well they do that? This tells you where your audiences may be underserved and where your opportunities are. Some super sleuth on your team can actually start doing this while you are still interviewing those other people in your company, which actually takes longer than you think. Because … schedules.

Research the market – I know. You know the market. But what does your industry do in the content marketing space? Do you know that? Get the super sleuth on this, too. They can be doing it along with the competitive research.

Do a content audit – What do you have (this is really an inventory), is it any good (this is the audit part), and just as important, if it is good, what else can you use it for this year? This can take some time if you have a lot of content and might take more than one person.

Week 3
Create goals and objectives – This is super important. It shouldn’t be “get more leads.” Think this through. Create some depth. How? In what way that is different from what was done before? To assist with what? Your content creator/strategist needs this for the rest of the plan. Don’t procrastinate here.

Define audience – Be specific. If you don’t know who are targeting this year, you will not succeed. Equally important to the content creator/strategist for his or her portion of the plan, so this one can’t be delayed either.

Develop measurement criteria – How will you and the team measure success? Determine this with leadership and/or as a group, but be sure to document it in the plan.

Week 4
Develop messages, themes, and topics – Do not delay on this. It takes time. Do messages first – at the beginning of the week. Agree on whether they represent you as a company before you move forward with themes and topics.

Choose content types and frequency – You need to decide here, based on your budget and resources, what you will produce and how frequently. The topics you create need to align with types, so make sure you have appropriate choices for anchor content, webinars, enough fodder for drip campaigns, etc.

Identify distribution channels – You’re going to market all this stuff after you make it, right? Where? You actually need a plan for this as well. And the plan can’t just be to distribute on your owned social media properties. Pro tip: that will not lead to victory.

Week 5
Identify your execution team – This team may be, in large part, the same team you have working on your plan. But are there others who can contribute to the content effort? Will you bring in an outside firm to help you? Freelancers? It’s decision time.

Choose your tools – Do you have a marketing automation platform? Planning to actually start using it or are you thinking about buying one? What about CRM? Editorial calendar software? Now is the time to think about what you have, what you actually use, what you need.

Build your editorial calendar – You have all those topics and content types ready to go. Now you need to put them into a calendar. Do not move forward without doing this. It takes longer than you think, so start this in week 5. It could take until the end of week 6 to be finished the way you want it.

Week 6
Create top 10 priorities ­– What’s going to happen first? Maybe the newsletter needs a redesign, some eBook gets repurposed, marketing automation platform gets set up, but you need your first 10 steps with deadlines. Don’t confuse this with the editorial calendar, because some of these action items might not be editorial in nature.


You can be rolling in a mere month and a half. Start now. Follow the schedule. It’s not to late to be successful this year and execute with a plan. Need more help with your planning? Download our eBook, “Build Your Content Marketing Plan: A 10-Step Guide.” For some extra help, get in touch … we can get you moving.


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About Yvonne Lyons:

Yvonne Lyons is Right Source’s vice president of creative services, overseeing content and design for all of our clients. She ensures that all creative produced at Right Source is of the highest quality and is aligned with our clients’ business strategy and goals. Yvonne received a bachelor’s degree from the Johns Hopkins University in writing and literature and has more than 20 years of experience in marketing, branding, and communications.